Archive for 2015

December 21st, 2015

December Travels

I’ve been travelling somewhat during December and with good reasons – been celebrating Christmas and ending of the year with my company’s staff.

My first stop was Tampere, a couple hours car drive north from Helsinki. So, it was just a short trip – but quite eventful. We ended debugging one of systems we’ve been developing for a client of ours while driving back to Helsinki. Fortunately, Finland has excellent 4G coverage and work could continue the whole time.

The next place was Tallinn. One can pop over there from Helsinki in a day, but I had more errands to run, so I spent one night in the beautiful city. Of course, being on a business trip I focused on either my meetings or my laptop.

The last leg was Oulu. This was a bit more special, as I took my middle child with me. He and his cousin are of same age and play very well together. So, I entertained him for a few hours while working before his cousin’s family picked him up. I spent my night there, too, and then met some friends over their house. All in all, very relaxing trip.

We will spent Christmas home, my parents are coming to stay for a few nights.

November 27th, 2015

eZ Conference 2015

I spent a week in Brooklyn, NY, to attend to eZ Conference 2015 in early November. A lot of things have happened after that trip, including Drupal 8 release party in Helsinki and DrupalCamp, both of them requiring quite a lot of my attention.

Anyhow, I flew in to New York with Finnair. Unfortunately, it was an older airplane and not the brand spanking new A350. But the flight was easy and also the waiting time in USA border control was tolerable.

I had booked an apartment through AirBnB, as it is way less expensive than a hotel, even for a single person. My apartment had a separate bedroom, quite big living room and a fully equipped kitchen. The neighbourhood was a bit rough looking and not in a positive way, but it looked worse than it was. There were plenty of grocery stores and small restaurants nearby, so my needs were well covered.

I had a session about bringing meaning to your life with open source at the conference and thus I arrived a couple of days earlier to get rid of jet lag. I strolled around Manhattan and bought various items that I and my family had listed as must-have purchases.

Besides that, I found myself so tired from previous weeks that I read books and surfed the Internet. I had to do some work, especially in the mornings when people were working in Finland.

The conference started on Wednesday morning with a half-day eZ Systems global partner meeting. It was refreshing to discuss with companies around the world how they run their business with eZ Publish.

The conference took a day and half. My session went well — at least I think so — and I received quite an amount of positive feedback after the session. The conference was in Williamsburg, so I wandered around during breaks and ate one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the restaurant.

The conference ended with a good party. And the party was even better after I found out that our company won two prizes: the best new partner and the best new blogger. Ixonos won third award, so Finland grabbed three out of nine awards. Not bad.

I left Brooklyn on Friday afternoon and was back at home on Saturday morning. Quite tired, but very satisfied. Would like to go again soon, but unfortunately there is no real need, and no time to have a holiday. Instead, I spent two days in London on business — nice trip, too.

October 22nd, 2015

Between travels

After returning from Barcelona I’ve been mostly working and focusing our summer cottage project. Travelling front has been quite quiet on my behalf, only a quick day trip to Tallinn to have a couple of meetings. Rest of the family has spent almost a week in northern Finland, as it was a fall school holiday period a week ago. I stayed home to work, work, work.

But I’ll be visiting New York in a week or so! I’ve been invited to speak in eZ Conference in Brooklyn and I’ll spent the whole week in the Big Apple. This is actually the first time ever that I’m visiting the city alone – always been there either with friends or family.

September 29th, 2015

DrupalCon Barcelona

I spent the previous week in sunny Barcelona – albeit mostly inside in CCIB conference center – as my company Exove participated in DrupalCon Barcelona as a Diamond sponsor.

DrupalCons are held once a year in Europe, and also in America and Asia. So, attending to DrupalCon has been an autumn tradition for the past five years or so for me.

Barcelona was by every means an excellent city to host the event. Good weather, excellent architecture, fabulous food, and working infrastructure makes it an ideal destination.

Unfortunately I had quite a bad flu the whole week. It actually started like two weeks before the trip and I was constantly coughing and sneezing. Some days were better and some worse, but I felt a bit sick every day. Not so much to stay in the bed, but just having a constant headache and so forth.

Anyhow, I flew in on early Sunday morning – the flight left Helsinki airport at ungodly hour of 6.15 in the morning and I was already at the city at 9.00. Most of our people – eleven in total – would come on Monday and leave on Friday, so we had reserved a big apartment for everyone of us. I had to pad my stay for a night on both ends, as I bought extremely cheap tickets from Stockmann’s crazy days. And then upgraded myself to business both ways using Finnair’s campaign. I probably had the cheapest business class seat on both of my flights.

I had reserved a room for one night at both ends (Sunday-Monday and Friday-Saturday) from a boutique hotel through booking.com. What I didn’t notice when doing the reservation that the hotel was a gay hotel. Albeit heterofriendly. Frankly, I was a tad shocked at first, but found that it was actually quite a good hotel. The only cues for the orientation were pictures of tanned and very muscular lads without shirts in all hotel advertisements.

I spent Sunday strolling around the city quite aimlessly. I decided to go to Picasso Museum, but the queue was like hundred people and it moved really slowly. So I ended up coding in my room. This is the downside of visiting cities that you’ve been in several times already.

Monday to Thursday was DrupalCon. A lot of meetings, a couple excellent dinners, and standing at our booth. I was quite drenched on Thursday evening.

I rented a car on Friday and drove to Andorra. I’ve never been there before and this was like a good day to pop over. The drive took around three hours in one direction and then I spent a couple of hours in the small country. It seemed to be a tax-free haven, but I ended buying only a can of Diet Pepsi.

On Saturday I flew back to Finland. There was a warning for an air controller strike for Saturday, but fortunately it was cancelled.

I spent Sunday mostly sick at home and then visited doctor on Monday – sinusitis on both sides. Now I’m on antibiotics and hopefully getting better.

The next trip is to New York to speak in eZ Conference at the beginning of November.

August 13th, 2015

Quiet life

Finnish summer has been truly abysmal this year. July was cold and rainy, and a short heatwave and sunny weather arrived quite on time when I got back to work. Not nice – on the other hand, I could spend some quality time with coding…

We stayed the rest of our holidays at home and in the neighbourhood – once ventures 150 kilometers west to Turku, but that was about it. Instead, I’ve been planning a number of trips on late August, September, and November. I’ll participate a couple of Drupal events in Tallinn and Barcelona and then will be speaking in New York at the beginning of November.

Waiting for those trips, will provide travelogues after the fact.

July 17th, 2015

Riga travelogue

We have a habit of having a few days trip to an European city destination every summer. A couple of years ago we visited Pärnu, Estonia; last year Ljubljana, Slovenia; and this year Riga, Latvia.

We decided to drive to Riga, as it is around 300 kilometers from Tallinn – and it is relatively straightforward to get your car to Tallinn by a ferry. And inexpensive, too.

We left Espoo on Saturday morning and by noon we were in Tallinn. The drive took a bit more longer than anticipated, as there were a lot of roadworks on Latvian side. But we finally got to Riga and found the AirBnB apartment.

Riga was a very nice city. The old town is surprisingly big and in good shape – there is numerous restaurants, cafés, and shops. We spent the first full day in tourist mode, checking various sights, and the next day went in shopping. On third day, we drove to Jurmala – 15 kilometers from Riga – to experience the sandy seashore and the biggest aquapark in the Baltic states. Both were very pleasant experiences.

The last day in Riga was a lazy one. We strolled around the city, visited some shops, spent time in a park and so on.

Riga and Latvia in general were surprisingly inexpensive. I was always thrilled to see how little we spent in a restaurant or coffee shop. I knew that Estonia is quite cheap, but Latvia was still cheaper. If the trend continues, Lithuania must then be almost free… And quality of everything was of high grade, except for the service – that was either direct or downright rude. And I’m used to the bluntness of Estonian service, but Latvia was still on a higher level.

The return trip was easier. We were lucky to get through the roadworks with minimal queueing and arrived in Pärnu for a lunch after three hours of driving. I had spotted Peppermünt restaurant from the top 50 restaurants of Estonia list, and it was excellent. There was a playground next to it, so kids went there to let some steam off before driving the last leg to Tallinn.

The ferry back to Finland was fully packed – as was the ferry to Estonia – and it took ages to get the car in and out. Some havocs broke out now and then in the back seat due to boredom, but finally we were on our way back to home.

June 25th, 2015

Midsummer in North Carelia

As we are building a new summer cottage, the old cottage is used by the builders during the weeks, and we haven’t felt that homely there – and thus we decided to go to my parents’ summer cottage to celebrate midsummer.

There was also another practical reason. We left Aapo and Niilo there for a week and took only our youngest, Seela, back with us to Espoo. As we are still working during the days, this is win-win-win for us, the boys, and the grandparents. Sanna will pick them up enroute to Taivalkoski; she’ll leave with Seela on Friday for a week and I continue working in Espoo.

Weather has not been very nice during this summer, there has not been actually a single really warm day in Finland. The same trend continued throughout the weekend – except briefly on Saturday when the sun shone warmly for a couple of hours. Other than that, we had great time. A lot of sauna, the usual midsummer bonfire, and good discussions with people.

This week has shown that one child generates way less noise than three. It has been blissfully silent here.

May 18th, 2015

Ahvenanmaa visit

Our extended family – us and my parents – spent three days in Ahvenanmaa, as Aapo participated in a football tournament.

For those that don’t know, Ahvenanmaa is an autonomous part of Finland with its own legislation, heritage, and culture. The only official language is Swedish and the whole place is somewhat in between Finnish and Swedish cultures.

We took a very early charter bus to Turku to embark our ferry to Ahvenanmaa. After a few hours on the sea, we arrived in sunny Maarianhamina, the capital of Ahvenanmaa – population around 12,000 people. The town was compact and very clean. Finnish cities are not dirty compared to London or New York, but Maarianhamina was impeccably clean.

We had two rooms in the hotel, one modern one for my parents and other 90s styled one for our family. As this was a sport trip, we had full board, so didn’t have need to explore Maarianhamina restaurants. That were plenty for a town of such size. There were also number of cafés, and all very good. A couple of delis, too.

Most of Saturday and half of Sunday were spent at the football field. My son’s club had two teams in different divisions. My son’s team won all their games – they scored 20 goals and nobody made any goals against them. The other team scored 22 goals and only one goal was made against them. So, the both teams were at the finals that ended up in penalty shoots. My son’s team lost, but at the end all of the boys got to pose with the trophy.

Our return ferry was Viking Grace that has been sailing only 18 months or so – and has been designed by a renowned interior design company. The experience was way beyond the other ships on the Baltic sea – much recommended!

We had our mother’s day lunch at the ship – excellent food and excellent company. Finally the ship arrived to Turku harbour and we were on the bus on our way to Kauniainen – arrived there a bit past ten o’clock in the evening with very tired kids.